Friday, October 21, 2011

William Kurelek

During my forth year critique first thing at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning past, I was anxiously anticipating my half hour and the response to my recent art work, I was presenting to the Fine Art Faculty and my fellow co-students. 

One of the faculty, the Head of the Department mentioned William Kurelek, in relation to my work, and asked me if I had ever seen the Van Halen album cover, which features William Kurelek's powerful painting, The Maze. I said no, I wasn't familiar with it.

 I hadn't thought or heard about this artist for many years, that I have so loved and appreciated dating back to the late 70s. I can't remember when I'd first knew of William Kurelek, but I was always so struck and moved by his work. 

I had written a paper on him for my Canadian Art History course, when I attended the University of Prince Edward Island, in 1975-76. I deeply admired his spiritual conviction to the Christian faith, and his subject matter completely captivated me. I was compelled by his own personal story and struggle with mental illness and hardship. He had overcome so much and not just survived, but thrived. Tragically he left this world far too soon, dying from cancer at the young age of fifty in 1977.

In 1980 when I'd gone to Toronto to study, had no idea how I myself would be affected by the ravages of mental illness, when I married my husband, also a William, who also suffered greatly from paranoid schizophrenia, and diabetes, and in a very short period of time, he would also loose his battle, and died four months after we had been married.

Today, I revisited the life of William Kurelek and perused the book I bought in the 80s entitled, Kurelek - A Biography by Patricia Morley.  I spent this afternoon searching online and found a few comprehensive sites about the artist. Two sites in particular, feature a couple of films about him and I have posted the links. I was excited to learn that this month, there has been a newly released film called, The Maze , which has been many years in the making. The NFB also has a documentary that was done several years ago by William Pettigrew in 1967.

I guess I must have missed this remarkable painting because I wasn't a Van Halen fan!


Indigene said...

I've never heard of him, either and was not a Van Halen Fan, but this art is intriguing and I will check out the book! :)

That's what's great about art, you just keep learning and never ends.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your comment Indigene. It is a very comprehensive book. I am very excited to see the documentary movie about him. Apparently it has been 40 years in the making. On the site there are audio clips you can listen too, of William being interviewed.

That's for sure Indigene." Life is for learning", as Joni Mitchell said in her song, Woodstock, and she was an art student and is an painter as well as a musician. ( my favourite)